Archive | April, 2010


West Indian Social Club Celebrates 60 Years

HARTFORD — Noel Elliot remembers that faithful day in April 1944. At 19 he left his home in Jamaica and came to America to work on a  tobacco farm in Connecticut.

Now, the 83 year old will celebrate the club his brother and six other farm workers established  60 years ago.

“Back then we were so together,” Elliot said of the commaderie among the farm workers–African Americans and West Indians,  who bunked together in camps. “We were a family, home away from home. We bonded.”

Elliot, pictured,  will be among his “family” as other former migrant workers join members and friends to celebrate the West Indian Social Club of Greater Hartford’s  60th anniversary in Cromwell. 

Founded in 1950 by guest farm workers recruited from the Caribbean, the West Indian Social Club is the oldest running organization of its kind in the United States.  They worked in tobacco fields and factories of New England during World War II. 

Far from their homes in the Caribbean, the men met frequently to continue their traditions such as dominos and cricket.  Elliot said he started cricket in Hartford’s Keney Park.

This year the organization will honor 17 individuals and organizations, including New York Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, P.J. Patterson  is the confirmed guest speaker for the Gala event.  Patterson, Jamaica’s longest-serving Prime Minister led the island nation from 1992 to 2006.

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Census Workers To Begin Visiting Homes May 1

HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell today issued reminders to residents about representatives from  U.S. Census who will begin visiting homes and apartments on May 1.

Census workers are expected to visit homes of those who did not mail back  thier 2010 Census forms.

Reponses to the form is required by law and it is essential that Connecticut is accurately counted. ” Billions of dollars in federal aid is tied to our population,”  Rell said. “Unfortunately, this door-to-door canvassing presents a prime opportunity for scam artists to try and steal identities or gain access to homes.

Official Census workers will have IDs and are not permitted to enter a home nor ask for confidential data, such as Social Security Number or bank accounts.

If a census taker visits you, here are some guidelines:

  • First ask to see their ID. All census workers carry official government badges marked with just their name; they may also have a “U.S. Census Bureau” bag
  • Note that the census taker will never ask to enter your home
  • If you are still not certain about their identity, please call the Boston Regional Census Centers to confirm they are employed by the Census Bureau at 617-223-3700.
  • Answer the census form questions for your entire household. You must be at least 15 years old to answer questions.

Every household in America received a short, 10-question form this year. Among the basic questions asked were gender, age, ethnic background and whether the respondent rent or owned his or her home.

For residents who speak a language other than English, Census takers will show the resident a card containing a sentence about the 2010 Census written in approximately 50 languages. The Census worker will show the card to the resident to determine his or her specific language and then will assign a Census worker who speaks that language.

Residents can also provide data by phone at: 1-866-872-6868.

More information on the U.S. Census in Connecticut:

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Face Lift Set for Abandoned Park

HARTFORD — One of the city’s parks will get a face lift soon.

Thanks to a  $3.1 million  federal grant that aims to  ” help assess, clean up and re-use” properties called “brownfields.”  These fields are contaminated and often long-abandoned properties that can be remediated and turned into productive sites for economic development or other public uses. state officials said.

Gov. Jodi Rell yesterday announced that the city will receive $125, 000 to clean up Ramon Qurious Park.

In all the state is expecting $3,124,500 in grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to nine projects in eight Connecticut cities and towns are part of more than $16 million in brownfields grants distributed to New England communities. The grant money will assist efforts to reclaim sites such as old textile mills, sites containing hazardous substances and other abandoned industrial and commercial properties, officials said.

“By  reusing brownfields instead of previously untouched property, we are preserving open space and maintaining the natural character of the rest of our state,” Rell said.

Other cities that are slated to receive these  grants are

  • East Hampton, $200,000 (community wide assessment)
  • Griswold, $200,000 (clean-up at former Triangle Plastic Wire and Cable Co.)
  • Middletown, $200,000 (clean-up at Remington Rand Complex)
  • New Haven, $200,000 (clean-up at 10 Wall Street site)
  • New Haven, $1 million (community wide revolving loan fund)
  • Preston Redevelopment Agency, $600,000 (three clean-up grants for work at the former Norwich State Hospital property)
  • Shelton, $200,000 (clean-up at Former Cel-lastik Parcel)
  • Waterbury Development Corp., $400,000 (community-wide assessment

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McCain’s Reversal

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During the last presidential primaries, we gave our support to Senator John McCain for being a pragmatic, independent-minded politician, and for having a realistic vision on immigration. What a disappointment it is to compare that man to the candidate for reelection in Arizona today!

McCain has gone from being a reasoned voice in the immigration debate to an apologist for the irrational by supporting the Arizona bill that uses racial profiling to persecute the undocumented, among other controversial provisions. If that weren’t enough, the Senator recently appeared on the Fox television network saying that undocumented immigrants were “intentionally” causing car accidents.

McCain’s dramatic shift on immigration personifies the political opportunism we mentioned a few weeks ago in relation to California’s own Republican primary, although the Senator’s case is much more profound. This is a politician who was once considered one of the Senate’s pillars in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, a position he diametrically opposes today.

It is sadly all too common for politicians to change their messages in election years to win more votes. But 180-degree reversals are unacceptable, all the more so, as in this case, when it means the persecution of individuals because of their appearance using stereotypes particularly harmful to Latinos.

McCain’s strategy aims to thwart a challenge by ultraconservative J.D. Hayworth in the August Republican primary. Pressure from anti-immigration extremists within the Republican ranks is leading people like McCain to take radical positions unlike anything they have done previously in their career.

We believe there is absolutely no justification for supporting the Arizona bill or for using the language the Senator did. Good deeds in the past provide no immunity for the blunders of the present.

After what just happened in Arizona, comprehensive immigration reform is needed more than ever. In this debate, McCain should be the reasonable pragmatist rather than a voice of irrational extremism.

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Three Arrested for Savage Yard Burglary

HARTFORD –Two adults and one juvenile were arrested for burglarly yesterday on the property of Demilio’s Savage Yard, police said.

Police arrested Jonule Mojica and Ruben Torreira, 24. Because of his age, the third suspect was unnamed. All were  charged with third degree burglary, crimminal trespass and possession of burglary tools, according to a press release.

At   7:43 p.m., police officers responded to Demilio’s Savage Yard on the report of three males burglarizing the property. 

According to police, upon arrival officers quickly apprehended two parties inside the salvage yard.  One was a 16-year- old juvenile who was in possession of several burglary tools and a car speaker, and the other was an adult, Mojica

With assistance from Hartford Police Officer Labbe and his K-9 Partner Ike, a third suspect, Torreira, was located hiding in the truck of one of the salvage vehicles on the property, police said.

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Urban League To Hold Largest Job Fair

HARTFORD —  More than 40 area businesses are expected to attend the Urban League of Greater Hartford’s  10th  Annual Career Fair from 10 a.m. -3 p.m. Thursday at Rentschler Field, according to organizers. 

Urban League officials said they estimated attracting more than 1,200 job hunters tomorrow at the stadium, which is at 615 Silver Lane in East Hartford.

Officials are also calling the fair the largest diversity career fair in the Metro Hartford area. This community event is designed for individuals who are seeking to obtain employment, change careers, or are thinking of starting their own business.

Financial advisors will provide free seminars on investment strategies, and resume reviewers will provide free consultations on resume writing. All job seekers are required to wear professional attire, and to bring copies of their resumes.

 For additional details visit or call Bruce Sievers @ 860-728-4286.

This event is made possible through the generous support of: Aetna, ECHN, Comcast, Barnes Group, St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center, Northeast Utilities, Eastern CT State University, Wellpoint Inc., Metropolitan District Commission, Northeast Utilities, Connecticare, The Hartford Guardian, ING, Foxwoods Casino, CBS Radio and WVIT NBC 30.


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City’s Art Programs Receive Grants

HARTFORD — Almost $600,000 is on its way to 33 Hartford-based individual artists, small businesses, and non-profit organizations in the creative economy through phase two of the Hartford Arts & Heritage Jobs Grant Program. 

Proposed by Mayor Eddie A. Perez, the City has partnered with the Greater Hartford Arts Council to utilize funding from the Federal Stimulus Community Development Block Grant Recovery Funds. 

The grants will build upon the Capital City’s renowned reputation as an Arts Mecca by providing investment resources to smaller Arts and Heritage entrepreneurs in order to retain and create jobs and stimulate the City’s overall economy.

The Phase two grants range from $5,000 to $25,000 and may be used for operational costs and equipment purchases. The creative economy consists of those who create, promote or distribute the arts, including, but not limited to: heritage and historical sites; performing arts; visual arts/photography; film, radio and TV; design and publishing; and art schools and services.

“This effort will continue the momentum that we created with the first round of stimulus dollars.  That $1 million in City money created and retained 185 employment opportunities and 80 additional opportunities for Hartford youth,” said Mayor Eddie A. Perez.  “Phase 2 will generate even more jobs in the City of Hartford.  There’s a ripple effect here. Neighborhood arts organizations expand their audience members and those audience impact dollars generate even more jobs at local restaurants and shops.” 

In fact, research shows the events of grant recipients attracted almost 145,000 attendees with almost 99,000 visiting from outside of Hartford.  The “arts audience impact dollars” so far total $3.1 million.

“This is a real public-private partnership, bringing together the creativity and good work of the City, area artists, nonprofit groups and businesses to create jobs and spur Hartford’s economy,” said Greater Hartford Arts Council Chief Executive Officer Kate Bolduc.

“It’s exciting to see the range and quality of the projects proposed, and difficult to choose among them,” said David Panagore, the City’s Chief Operating Officer and Director of Development Services, who chaired the Hartford Arts & Heritage Jobs Grant Review Panel. “Our goal was to strike a balance between funding as many good projects as possible and making sure each grant amount was enough for that project to succeed.” 

A complete list of recipients is on  An 8-member grant review panel— comprised of City and Arts Council representatives, judged each application on the direct and indirect economic impact, as well as factors such as management plan, artistic merit and community impact. Projects committed to hiring Hartford residents were given priority.  At least 33 more job opportunities are expected to be created.   


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Area Teacher Among Winning Group for Top Honor

HARTFORD — A Greater Hartford-area teacher is among three Connecticut teachers participating in the Connecticut Business & Industry Association’s Project Opening Doors have been named “All American Teachers of the Year” by the National Math and Science Initiative.

Fred Carofano, a statistics teacher at East Hartford High School was joined by Patricia Trask, an English teacher at Coventry High Schooland Laura Dodita, a chemistry teacher at Westhill High School in Stamford in being among 18 Advanced Placement teachers nationwide being honored for their remarkable contributions to their students and to the teaching profession, and for being an inspiring model of excellence to others, according to a press release by CBIA.

“These teachers have demonstrated a total commitment to our AP students’ academic growth,” said Tom Luce, CEO of NMSI. “They recognize the importance of championing excellence in math and science, which will help more of our young people succeed in school, work and life.”

In its first year, the All American Teacher of the Year Award recognizes outstanding math, science, and English teachers participating in NMSI’s Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program. In Connecticut, that program is the CBIA Education Foundation’s POD campaign, which increases the number of rigorous AP math, English, and science classes in Connecticut schools and the number of underrepresented students enrolled in those classes.

“Patricia, Fred, and Laura are representative of the dedicated professionals working in all of POD’s schools,” says Dr. Cam Vautour, president of CBIA’s POD. “It is due to their belief in students and their commitment to high-quality instruction that the program has proven so successful in its first year of operation.”

Judith K. Resnick, executive director of CBIA’s Education Foundation and director of CBIA’s workforce development and training adds that “their participation in POD and commitment to their students is helping to close Connecticut’s achievement gap, providing all students—especially those in underserved minority groups—the opportunity to be successful participants in the future workforce.”

The teachers will receive a cash award and will be honored at a special award luncheon in Washington, D.C. in mid-May.

Connecticut’s Project Opening Doors was established in 2008, with nine high schools participating. Ten more high schools joined the program in 2009. The 19 high schools participating in the program are:

  • Ansonia High School, Ansonia
  • Bacon High School, Colchester
  • Bloomfield High School, Bloomfield
  • Bulkeley High School, Hartford
  • Cooperative Arts and Humanities Magnet High School, New Haven
  • Coventry High School, Coventry
  • East Hartford High, East Hartford
  • Hill Regional Career High School, New Haven
  • New Britain High School, New Britain
  • New London High School, New London
  • Parish Hill High School, Chaplin
  • Plainville High School, Plainville
  • Putnam High School, Putnam
  • Westhill High School, Stamford
  • Wilbur Cross High School, New Haven
  • Wilby High School, Waterbury
  • Windham High School, Willimantic
  • Windsor High School, Windsor
  • Windsor Locks High School, Windsor Locks

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Final Phase of Connecticut’s CSI Unit Complete

MERIDEN — Gov. M. Jodi Rell and noted criminal pathologist Dr. Henry Lee helped cut the ribbon marking the recent opening of the new, $8 million centralized forensic science laboratory in Meriden.

The lab pro­vides examiners three rooms stocked with the latest equip­ment dedicated to analyzing drugs and biological samples. The opening of the 21,750-square-foot addition marks the third and final phase of the lab’s expansion, completing a process that began in 1990.

Ex­aminers now have the ability to analyze nearly any piece of evi­dence gathered by cops work­ing a crime scene.

“From DNA analysis, entry into databanks, to firearms, fin­gerprints and trace evidence, this lab can do it all,” Rell said. “It’s not just the lab, it’s the peo­ple who work here.”

 Forensic science is the name of the game in every police procedural, crime drama and murder mystery. It is one more instance of art imitating life, because thanks to pioneers like Dr. Henry Lee, Connecticut has long been a leader in this important field, Rell said.

            The new, 21,750-square-foot addition houses the Controlled Substances and Toxicology Laboratories, the Computer Crimes and Electronic Evidence Unit, work stations, offices and storage areas.

            Phase I of the project, completed in 1994, houses the DNA, CODIS data bank, Forensic Biology and Trace /Chemistry units. Phase II, completed in 1999, houses the Firearms and Toolmark unit, Photography/Imaging Lab, Latent Fingerprints and AFIS, Documents/Imprints Unit and lecture hall.

            The Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory receives casework from state and local police and fire departments, prosecutors’ and public defenders’ offices and federal agencies. Cases range from identification of illicit substances to biological samples to computer crimes. Reports generated by the lab are used in criminal cases and are supported by the expert testimony of laboratory scientists.

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School Clinic To Be Renamed John Hunt Clinic

HARTFORD — The Maria Sanchez School Clinic will hold a dedication ceremony to  rename its clinic in memory of John Hunt, a former vice president of Travelers Insurance Companies and a volunteer and generous benefactor at the school for seven years.

The event will begin 10 a.m. at the Maria Sanchez Elementary School, 176 Babcock St.

Hunt, who is pictured with his wife Carol in 2005,  mentored students and tutored them in math four days a week, developed what is known as the Sanchez Vision Care Program in 2000. The program, which he funded at $7,000 annually, provides free transportation for students and parents to their scheduled eye exams, according to a press release.

He also arranged trips to local college campuses to motivate students to further their education. In 2001, Hunt collaborated with administration at Sanchez to create the Maria Sanchez School College Club, to which he donated more than $350,000.

The club provides 36 full college scholarships for students graduating in the top 20 percent of their class.  John Hunt passed away in 2007, but his work remains.

Currently, the scholarship program is being supervised by the nonprofit organization Our Piece of Pie (OPP) and the Sanchez Vision Care program is still being funded through memorial donations.

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